The first national camp through the eyes of an international volunteer

In June 2018, 21 kids, 2 junior counsellors, 3 group leaders and 3 staff members came together for the first national CISV camp in Finland, the aim of which was to introduce CISV to new people and to bring together Finnish kids from different parts of the country. A Portuguese volunteer Inês Marinho introduces to you a day in the life of an international staff member.

A national camp can foster diversity, too 

Helsinki, Porvoo, Naantali and Tampere. These were the delegations that participated in the first national camp of CISV for 10 days in July in Hyllykallio School, Seinäjoki. Participants were mainly ten years old, but also some eleven and twelve years old came to experience the CISV spirit.

From a range of four main annual themes – diversity, human rights, conflict and resolution, and sustainable development – diversity was the chosen one for 2018. Although the camp was a national one and all the participants were from Finland, the diversity was still present in the form of regional diversity and international staff members from Iran and Portugal.

Working together for an unforgettable camp experience

The days started early in the morning. At 7:30, music was played for morning alarm. As a staff member, my task was to prepare breakfast. After breakfast people would gather around the flagpole, run the CISV flag up and sing a song. Mornings were usually fully scheduled with cleaning, activities and games. Lunch was served at noon. Afterwards, it was time for the delegation time and leader and staff meetings. The discussions wandered from managing conflicts that may arise to planning the next day’s schedule.

Shower time was scheduled at 15:30 and dinner right after it at 16:00. After dinner activities continued until the 20:00 snack time. At the end of the day, we had flag time again and some 30 minutes of lullabies to ensure a good night’s sleep.

Language gaps and gaining confidence

By my side on the staff team, I had Antti and Sara, both from Lappeenranta. As the camp director, Antti was the only staff member with previous CISV experience, whereas me and Sara were both new to the organization. We had training sessions before the camp; however, there is nothing like experience and a lot of years turning chickens (a Portuguese proverb for being experienced in something). The language gap can sometimes be discouraging. As the kids didn’t speak English, it made it even more challenging. But once the kids started to gain more confidence with the staff, they started to try to speak with me and Sara and even taught me some Finnish. Truly sweet and heartwarming children!


Text and photos: Inês Marinho – European Volunteer from Portugal
Originally published in Cisvari magazine 2018.

“By bringing young people together in a spirit of tolerance and understanding, we help to lay the foundation for a peaceful tomorrow."

Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary General, CISV Seoul Symposium 2000.